A new medical approach combines evidence-based medical care with methods of alternative care to relieve pain.
A new study finds that an integrative approach to treating chronic pain significantly reduces pain severity while improving mood and quality of life.
The study is published in the Complementary and Alternative Medicine journal.
Researchers found a reduction in pain severity of more than 20 percent and a drop in pain interference of nearly 30 percent in patients after 24 weeks of integrative care.
Significant improvements in mood, stress, quality of life, fatigue, sleep and well-being were also observed.
“Chronic pain is very difficult to treat,” said lead researcher Dr. Donald Abrams, a cancer and integrative medicine specialist at the University of California San Francisco Osher Center for Integrative Medicine.
“While there have been some therapeutic advances, many patients with chronic pain become resistant to conventional medical treatments or suffer adverse effects from widely used prescription medications with high addictive potential.
“The results from this study are particularly encouraging as chronic pain is the number one condition for which patients seek care at integrative health care clinics.”
Experts say that chronic pain affects nearly 116 million American adults, with estimated costs tallying up to $635 billion annually.
In the study, researchers tracked patients’ measures of pain, quality of life, mood, stress, sleep, fatigue, sense of control, overall well-being, and work productivity in 252 patients at nine different clinical sites.
An integrative medicine philosophy promotes individualized, patient-centered care from providers including integrative physicians, acupuncturists, mindfulness instructors and yoga instructors.
Often massage therapists, manual medicine therapists, fitness/movement specialists, dietician/nutritionists, psychologists, healing touch therapists and other energy practitioners provide hands-on care.
The results of the study were consistent over the 24-week duration of the trial, suggesting the possibility of sustainable effects of the integrative interventions.